Purchase of two more conservation easements to preserve farmland was postponed so that a single transaction with the N.M. Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) to purchase Corrales’ municipal bonds could be consolidated. The Village Council had been expected to exercise pending options to acquire easements at its July 20 session. But Village Administrator Ron Curry said July 15 that the Village’s bond attorney, Jill Sweeney, was trying to combine use of general obligation bonds for easements on the Phelps Farm and the Lopez Farm. As in the past, DFA buys the Village’s GO bonds for the bond market and is paid interest on the funds provided over time.
The pending acquisitions are expected to use the last of the $2.5 million from GO bonds approved by Corrales voters in the 2018 municipal election. Curry said final appraisals had not been submitted, but that the bond sales would be adequate to cover costs. Village officials have until November 30, 2021 to exercise an option on the three-acre farm owned by Emilio, Veronica and Renee Lopez, and a similar time frame has been set for the 10-acre Phelps Farm nearby. Those are expected to be the last easements to be acquired using funds generated by the 2018 GO bonds. Last year, the Village acquired a similar easement on the Haslam family’s farm a little south of the Phelps and Lopez tracts between the Main Canal and the Corrales Lateral irrigation ditch west of Corrales Road.
That earlier acquisition preserved 12 acres at a cost of approximately $960,000 from those bonds. The easement agreement between the Lopez family and the Village of Corrales notes that the three acres “includes scenic open space located along, visible from, and directly adjacent to Corrales Road, the primary thoroughfare through the village and the Corrales Bosque Preserve; and a public recreational trail along Sandoval Lateral, which is frequented by many residents and visitors for walking, running, horseback riding and mountain biking. The publicly accessible viewing platform along the Sandoval Lateral and Corrales Bosque Preserve will also provide significant opportunities for the public to enjoy the scenic values of the property.”
As with earlier farmland added to the Village’s farmland preservation program, the easements to be acquired would be held and administered for the Village by the New Mexico Land Conservancy, based in Santa Fe. If the Lopez deal goes through, the owners of the land, or any subsequent owners, would have the right to construct an agriculture-related building within a quarter-acre enclave, similar to other earlier transactions. At the May 25 Village Council meeting, an option to purchase a conservation easement on that land owned by Courtnay and Anne Koontz was approved unanimously. A final appraisal has yet to be made, but the Village is expected to pay approximately $780,000 to prevent the tract from being developed. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXX No.8 June 5, 2021 “Another 10 Acres of Prime Farmland To Be Saved.”) Members of the Corrales Farmland Preservation and Agriculture Committee were invited to submit a guest commentary to Corrales Comment to explain where that effort goes next since the GO bonds likely will have been spent. That is expected to be published in the August 7 issue.